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Take a day off to explore one of British Columbia’s most spectacular wilderness areas on a kayaking tour through Johnstone Strait. Explore the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island while spotting orcas, picnic on pristine Little Kai Beach and venture into the dense forests on an afternoon hike.
Your journey begins in the picturesque community of Telegraph Cove on the northern shores of Vancouver Island. We’ll meet early for an introductory briefing, touching on paddling techniques and safety measures to ensure your time in the water is as safe and enjoyable as possible. From Telegraph Cove we’ll launch into the natural harbor and begin slowly paddling through the passage that leads to the stunning wilderness and wildlife of Johnstone Strait.
Following the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island, soak up the views towards mainland British Columbia in the distance as your kayak skims through the waters. We’ll be traveling through a corridor which is frequented by orcas who come to feed on the passing salmon runs, with sightings best from mid-July through to September. Paddle past uninhabited islands and idyllic coves where dolphins, sea lions, Pacific harbor seals and river otters can all be spotted while keeping an eye out for black bears hunting and bald eagles soaring above.
As lunch approaches, we’ll make our way to Little Kai Beach to picnic in this paradise. Then go hiking through the surrounding forests or spend time wandering along the intertidal zone where driftwood washes up on the shore. Amidst the bull kelp, you may be able to find sea urchins, sunflower stars and brittle stars clinging to the rocky shores. It’s then time to get back in the kayaks for the return journey to Telegraph Cove, paddling through these nutrient rich waters which support a myriad of marine life.
Dates & Rates
Daily departures starting at $125
FAQ & More
The northern resident pods of orca (killer whales) currently number over 220 individually identified whales in 17 separate pods. They are generally found in Johnstone Strait when salmon, their primary prey, come from the ocean to spawn in the rivers of mainland British Columbia. The whales arrive after about the first week in July, and stay through late September. Our tours are scheduled only during the times when the whales have historically populated the area. Transient killer whales are found in the area beyond this narrow summer window, but are fewer in number and offer infrequent sightings. Humpback whales return from their breeding grounds in Hawaii early summer, and remain through the autumn. Though once hunted to extinction from the area, humpbacks have returned to the area as a tremendous success story, and are almost more common than Orcas!
There are no recorded attacks on humans in history from wild Orcas. To our knowledge a killer whale has never bumped a kayak or shown any aggression toward kayakers. All whales are acutely aware of their surroundings, and can use echolocation to track objects in their waters. From our many years in Johnstone Strait and hundreds of close encounters with killer whales, we feel very safe being in their presence. Most of the Orcas we encounter are strictly salmon-eaters.
While we have a 98% success rate for seeing Orcas, they are wild animals that roam at will and thus, we are unable to guarantee a sighting. To increase your opportunities for seeing the Orcas, or simply to enjoy even more whale watching, you might want to add an extra day to your vacation to go on a Stubb's Island Whale Watching trip that is operated by motor skiff. Their motorized boat allows them to cover more ground in search of Orcas and humpbacks throughout the Johnstone Strait area.
For all of our British Columbia kayaking tours, we follow "Be Whale Wise" regulations for the protection of the whales. According to the regulations, viewers must stay 200 yards/meters or more away from Orcas. We are very privileged to have the opportunity to observe these incredible creatures from close vantage points. The survival of the Orca, depends on everyone's cooperation with the "Be Whale Wise" and other responsible whale watching regulations. Occasionally, because orcas are much fast than us while in a kayak, they approach us much closer than the above guidelines. That said, many of our closest encounters have been from land, as the whales often come within meters of the shoreline! Understanding the behavior and range of the Orcas helps to better-set your expectations for your Orca kayak tour. Feel free to explore www.BeWhaleWise.org to read more about these regulations.